North Korea was back in the news this past week as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the North and South Korea. Tensions have escalated over the past few years as North Korea continues to increase its nuclear capabilities. Tillerson commented, in the latest addition to the conflict, that the U.S. will consider military action if North Korea doesn’t curb its nuclear weapons programs. Tillerson went on to say:
“Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict… But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces then that would be met with an appropriate response.”
Tillerson’s comments could be viewed as a fanning of the flames, but North Korea has, in recent history, escalated the situation both through military testing as well as through its propaganda machine.
Some Of The More Inflammatory Highlights
- January 2017: North Korea announces it is ready to test an ICBM “at any time, at any place.”
- September 16, 2016: North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense reported that it showed improvement over previous tests.
- March 20, 2016: The D.R.P.K. released this propaganda video, part of which depicts a dramatized nuclear attack on Washington D.C.
- January 6, 2016: North Korea conducted an underground hydrogen bomb test.
- February 12, 2013: North Korea conducted its third nuclear test.
- February 3, 2013: North Korean state-controlled media outlets released a video which included an animation of New York City being bombed.
This is not an exhaustive list, however, it is noteworthy that North Korea also conducted two additional confirmed tests previous to the above (in 2009 and 2006) for a total of 5 known tests to date.
While we may not know what is truly going on in Kim Jong-un’s mind, the above should make two things crystal clear. First, a regime hostile to the U.S. is making progress toward having a usable nuclear weapon with a functional delivery system; and second, the pace of testing is increasing along with “diplomatic” tension. Prior to Rex Tillerson’s comment, only North Korea was actively talking about military aggression. Now, it is both nations.
Featured image from YouTube video.